How Can I Show Empathy to My Loved One With Bipolar?

Humans experience their ups and downs on a daily basis. It’s a natural part of existence in life. However, those that struggle with bipolar disorder experience life differently. Their extreme emotional lows and highs can cause interference between friends and family and in daily life. If you have someone you love struggling with bipolar disorder, learning how to connect with them is important, especially when there may be substance use concerns involved as well. 

The Emotional Ups and Downs of Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain cells. It is a chemical imbalance of cognitive function and results in behavioral alterations. Many individuals call bipolar disorders “manic depression” or simply a mental disorder. There are over 6 million individuals who have bipolar disorder in North America. Individuals who have bipolar disorder may experience different types of the disorder; however, each one has a couple of common denominators.

Bipolar disorder has a stage of mania (either mania or hypomania) and depression. Mania is a behavioral state where an elevated mood leads to risky situations and risky behaviors. Mania can lead to high energy, lack of sleep, racing thoughts, extreme ups and downs, difficulty concentration, highly increased self-importance, and irritability. Depression, on the other hand, can be described as the extreme lows of bipolar disorder. Symptoms can include loss of interest in things once found pleasurable, difficulty sleeping, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and constant sadness. 

Bipolar disorder is experienced by each individual differently, and each one has its ups and downs with different emotional intensities. Most individuals who have bipolar disorders will experience depression as one of the common symptoms. Some individuals with bipolar disorders may experience both mania and depression at the same time.

The Benefits of Showing Empathy

Empathy is a way for you and others to share your feelings in a heartfelt combination of pain, connection, and affection. When you empathize with others, you are building those connections and allowing yourself to walk in their shoes. Walking in someone else’s shoes may not give you the full perspective of what they’re going through, but it gives you the ability to build a stronger relationship. It also teaches you how to react, how to make the right decisions, and how to alter your perception to best help the one you love who struggles with bipolar disorders and substance use. When you question if you should give empathy to your loved one struggling with bipolar disorder, the answer is always yes.

When you encourage empathy, you can recognize and understand different perceptions. Emotional processing is a part of human nature. It helps you alleviate stresses and build on your brain's connection with function. Empathy helps with your thought process, your reasoning, and your decision-making. Therefore, being empathetic towards those that have bipolar disorder is essential to the recovery process.

Connecting With Your Loved Ones

Since individuals with bipolar disorders have extreme ups and downs, sometimes it’s difficult for a friend or family member to show empathy. Sometimes, they may feel worthless, even when you show empathy. However, by implementing it in a compassionate form, the individual who struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction can redirect their mindset and release their stress with the help of others.

Without the proper empathy and help from a professional, individuals struggling with bipolar disorder and substance use may see defects and dysfunction in their life. As a family member of the one struggling with a bipolar disorder or addiction, you may notice at times that your loved one will be less empathetic than what you were hoping for. During times like these, you need to remember that there is help. A mental health provider helps you and your loved one find the right treatment for specific symptoms and guidance to support you during times like these. Bipolar treatment helps you learn more about the disorder and how it impacts the lives of those who experience it.

There are differences between co-occurring substance use and bipolar disorders, and learning as much as you can about dual-diagnosis treatment will help you connect better with the ones you love. It’s time you take the next step towards your self-healing and support your loved one with empathy and compassion. Quality bipolar treatment teaches you the right path and gives you guidance for a healthier lifestyle. At NorthStar Transitions, we understand that bipolar disorder may make you interpret emotions differently. There are many mixed messages about empathy and emotion, especially when addiction is involved. 

If you or someone you love feels troubled and in doubt of how to handle your emotions, or if you’re wondering if those struggling with bipolar disorder can get help, NorthStar Transitions is here for you. Our treatment center in Boulder, which offers programs for those struggling with bipolar disorder, delivers professional empathy and compassion to each individual who walks through our doors. We focus on addiction and the disorder together to help you and your loved ones reach and sustain a healthier life. We will connect you with ways to help you forge a closer relationship with your loved one and teach you how to handle co-occurring disorders. You can find the empathy to treat your loved ones with respect during their treatment process. You and your loved one will grow, have a healthier life, and reach that positive, sober-free future. For more information, contact NorthStar Transitions today at (303) 558-6400.

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